A Brief Thought on Freedom of Speech

February 19, 2017

I was going to share this article on Facebook, but I find a lot more thoughts on it than I’d like to shove into a link description.  It’s a critique of Bill Maher’s inviting Breitbart Editor and controversial figure Milo Yiannopoulos on his show and how Maher handled it.  They conducted an interview followed by Yiannopoulos sitting in on the Overtime panel discussion.  Given the recent events surrounding his speaking at Berkeley and other schools, his name has been one I’ve heard quite a lot lately and I figured I would learn a bit more.  I watch Bill Maher’s program so it worked out nicely.

Yiannopoulos is an interesting person.  He’s an “alt-right” figure who works for Breitbart, which has it’s own controversial reputation.  He’s a practicing Catholic.  He’s openly gay, yet opposes LGBT rights.  I won’t even get into the controversial statements about a number of other topics, but it is a “fascinating” array of opinions.

Which brings me to his appearance on Maher’s television program.  It really just made me go “Huh.”  I will say that I thought Maher should have challenged him more.  I understand he’s the host of the show and feels a certain need to maintain a certain atmosphere, but I think there were opportunities for him to challenge Yiannopoulos’ stances.  Times when it was necessary.  Particularly in the Overtime segment.  Two of the other guests did push him on a couple of points in ways I thought were effective.  While freedom of speech is wonderful thing, it is just as important to be challenged and held accountable for the things we express with that right.

Freedom of Speech should be about starting a meaningful discussion and dialog, which appeared to be something that Yiannopoulos has no interest in.  While I appreciate what Maher wanted to do, the point was completely missed over the course the interview and panel discussion.

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